AstraZeneca pens partnerships at COP27 to boost equitable cancer care across Africa

AstraZeneca is teaming up with a host of African organizations to help patients across the continent gain better and more fair access to cancer care.

The so-called “Accelerating Change Together for Cancer Care in Africa” (ACT;CCA) aims to “tackle the growing burden of cancer across continent and improve patient outcomes,” the British Big Pharma said in a press release.

The project, announced on the margins of the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2022 (COP27) this month, comes under the patronage of the Egyptian Ministry of Health.

This provides a platform for partners to co-create cancer care solutions “that close the gaps in existing patient care pathway, from diagnosis through to treatment and beyond,” AZ added in the release.

The program is led by a steering committee of doctors, oncology institutions and advocacy groups to guide policy intervention, share lessons across borders and put cancer patients at the center. Members will meet on a regular basis to drive progress on cancer initiatives.

And there is a need to act: AZ released figures that found more than 700,000 deaths occurred due to cancer across the region in 2020, and, across sub-Saharan Africa, the current mortality rates are reaching 70% in diagnosed cases.

The ACT;CCA focuses on driving impact in lung, breast and prostate cancers through capacity building, early screening and diagnosis and patient empowerment.

Over the next three years, ACT;CCA aims to drive screening and diagnostics covering 1 million people across cancer types and to provide training for more than 10,000 healthcare professionals across 100 oncology centers.

“While cancer treatment developments are moving quickly, equitable access to these innovations is not there for all,” said Pelin Incesu, area vice president for the Middle East and Africa at AstraZeneca, in the release.

“Our ambition is to nurture the cancer care ecosystem in Africa, bringing together local stakeholders to co-create solutions and encourage long-term investment that leads to equitable cancer outcomes.

“We need joint action to reverse the alarming increase in Africa’s cancer burden, by addressing the unique barriers to cancer diagnosis and treatment, as well as building capacity that helps to make innovative care accessible to patients.”

Launch events are planned over the coming months in Algeria, Morocco and Kenya focused on local initiatives under the ACT;CCA umbrella.

AstraZeneca markets a number of cancer drugs around the world including Imjudo, Imfinzi, Faslodex, Lynparza and Tagrisso for a range of oncology indications including liver, lung, breast and skin cancers.

The company has several other initiatives in Africa predominately involving boosting vaccination rates. Most recently, it teamed up with supporting mobile health clinics in Kenya, launching in June.